Atlanta, September 7
Dustin Johnson watched his opening drive sail lengthy and fall gently to the appropriate, similar to he imagined. So did the subsequent drive. It was like that every one day at East Lake, and the end result was predictable.
Johnson is taking part in one of the best golf and appears harder than ever to beat.
When he completed with a 10-foot birdie, Johnson matched the low spherical Sunday with a 6-under 64 to construct a five-shot lead over Justin Thomas and Xander Schauffele within the Tour Championship, leaving him one spherical away from the FedEx Cup and its USD 15 million prize.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence in everything I’m doing right now,” Johnson mentioned.
A fast repair on the vary the earlier night was all he wanted to get straightened out. Johnson missed solely three fairways, and never by a lot. He putted for birdie on all however three holes and made seven of them.
“He’s showcased what he can do,” Schauffele mentioned.
“If he does what he normally does, it’s going to be almost impossible to catch him.”
Normal lately for Johnson should be daunting for everybody else.
He was at 19-under par, making this his 4 consecutive begin with at the very least a share of the 54-hole lead. He transformed a kind of into an 11-shot victory on the TPC Boston. He misplaced to a 65 by Collin Morikawa within the PGA Championship and o a 65-foot putt by Jon Rahm in a playoff final week at Olympia Fields.
“We’re going to need Dustin to throw us a bone and not have a good day,” mentioned Rahm, who was six pictures again.
Johnson is aware of higher than anybody that it’s not over. He had a six-shot lead in Shanghai three years in the past and did not win, although he had a brand new set of irons and was coming off a five-week break. He additionally had a five-shot lead at The Northern Trust two weeks in the past and obliterated the course and the sector to win by 11.
“If he hits the ball like everybody knows he can and the way he’s putting … I haven’t seen him putt that well in a long time,” Harris English mentioned.
“It’s hard to stop.”
Only 4 gamers have an inexpensive likelihood of catching him.
Schauffele, a big-game participant who received the Tour Championship three years in the past, dropped just one shot on the entrance 9 and completed with a 10-foot birdie putt for a 67 that put him within the remaining group with Johnson.
Thomas missed a 16-inch par putt on the 10th gap that he carelessly went to faucet in, bounced again with a 25-foot birdie putt on the hardest par three at East Lake and made two extra birdies coming for a 66.
They have been at 14 below.
“DJ is clearly playing well. It wasn’t easy today,” Thomas mentioned.
“It’s still East Lake. But anything can happen around this course. You can shoot 63 or 64 and you can shoot 73 or 74 very easily. I just need to hope that tomorrow is my 63 or 64.” Rahm has had a wild week. He opened with a 65, adopted with a 74 and bounced again with a 66. He performed bogey-free and his spherical solely felt higher when he completed with two birdies.
“The one good thing I have going for me is we’re here to win, so tomorrow is a green light for everything,” Rahm mentioned.
Morikawa rallied with 5 birdies on the again 9 to salvage a tough begin for a 67. He was seven behind.
Daniel Berger additionally had a 64, however he made up no floor on Johnson was remained 9 behind. Also at 10-under was Sungjae Im, who performed within the remaining group with Johnson and will need to have questioned what hit him. Im shot 72.
The FedEx Cup has been on Johnson’s thoughts ever since he squandered a fantastic likelihood to win it in 2016.
He went into the ultimate spherical that 12 months tied for the lead after which couldn’t discover a fairway, closing with a 73. He nonetheless had an opportunity to win the FedEx Cup when it was primarily based on factors. Only one participant might have crushed him that day and it was Rory McIlroy, who holed a shot from the green on the 16th for eagle after which received in a three-way playoff.
Johnson strikes on from wins and losses, regardless of how excessive or how crushing. Even so, he thinks about that day, primarily as a result of the FedEx Cup is crammed with large names and his isn’t amongst them but.
“To be the FedEx Cup champion is something that I want to do. It’s something that I want on my resume when I quit playing golf,” he mentioned.
McIlroy received’t be within the combine this 12 months. He was strolling off the 17th tee and appeared again at Johnson heading to the 14th, a 512-yard par four and the hardest at East Lake. Johnson already was 10 pictures forward of him, after which smashed a drive down the green and made a 15-foot birdie putt.
McIlroy birdied the 17th to salvage a 70. He was 11 pictures again. — AP